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MIAA High School Sports News: Risk Guidelines and Schedule Set

The MIAA requested and has received guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with regards to high school Fall Sports Guidelines. Latest updates on the guidelines say that high school sports are broken into three categories: Lower Risk, Moderate Risk and Higher Risk.
     Lower Risk sports embrace golf and cross country, and during other seasons, tennis and swimming will be included in the Lower Rick category.
     Moderate Risk fall sports are volleyball, field hockey and soccer. For other seasons, they include baseball, softball, sailing, track and field, and girls lacrosse. Sports or activities that involve intermittent close proximity or limited, incidental physical contact between participants, would be labeled Moderate Risk sports.
     Higher Risk Sports or activities where there is substantial likelihood of routine close and/ or sustained proximity or deliberate physical contact between participants and a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
Higher Risk sports include football and competitive cheer, wrestling, basketball, boys’ lacrosse and ice hockey. There will be several modifications all in the interest of keeping athletes safe.
     Deliberate close contact must be eliminated and includes but is not limited to collisions, body checking, tackling, blocking, and racing/riding in packs.
     Game situations that result in intermittent close physical or face-to-face contact must be modified or eliminated, including: restarts, face-offs, throw-ins, scrums for the ball/puck, or similar activities. These activities may be allowed if face masks are used during contact (e.g., face-offs could take place with face masks worn by each player in-volved).
     Yes, that will change the nature of those sports. Imagine soccer without slide tackling or body checking. Regarding actual games: In order for soccer, field hockey, volleyball and football to play games, these criteria must be met.
     As I canvassed area athletic directors, the concern was consistently for the safety for the athletes, coaches and officials. “I want the kids to play but I don’t know how we can keep them safe” seemed to be the consensus. Due to the times we live in, all guidelines are subject to change. (Information obtained from a press release from the MIAA.)
The MIAA Covid-19 Task Force Recommendations
     The MIAA COVID-19 Task Force has been meeting weekly for the past 12 weeks since May 21. It has been a waiting game athletic directors, athletes, coaches, parents, and fans of high school athletes waiting to see if, and how, fall sports can be played.
     On Wednesday August 19, the MIAA Covid-19 Task Force recommends the MIAA Board of Directors adopt September 18, 2020 as the start date to the fall athletic season.
     The MIAA Board of Directors voted 24-0 to adopt the Task Force recommendation.
2020-2021 Schedule for High School Sports
• Sept 18th –Nov. 20th Fall Sports: B/G Soccer, Fall Gymnastics, B/G Cross Country, Field Hockey, Girls Volleyball, Swim & Dive, Golf, Dance.
• Nov. 30th-Feb. 21st Winter Sports: B/G Basketball, B/G Hockey, Wrestling, Winter Gymnastics, B/G Indoor Track & Field; Alpine Ski, Nordic Ski, Winter Cheer, Dance, Swim & Dive, Dance
• Feb. 22nd-April 25th Fall Sports II (“Floating Season”): Football, Fall Cheer, Unified Basketball, sports not played in fall season.
• April 26th-July 3rd Spring Sports: Baseball, Softball, B/G Lacrosse, B/G Tennis; Boys Volleyball, B/G/U Outdoor Track & Field, Rugby, Sailing, Girls’ Golf, Crew. Regions have the ability to adjust dates with the approval of their District Athletic Committee (DAC).
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